MINA 3rd International Mobile Innovation Screening 2013

WEEK TWO: Auckland (post 2 of 3): MINA 3rd International Mobile Innovation Screening 2013

Screen shot 2013-11-26 at 22.06.26

As well as working with some of the ELVSS team on our Mobile Augmented Reality Film Workshops (more of that later), I’m in Auckland as a keynote speaker (along with Prof. Larissa Hjorth from RMIT) at the 3rd MINA Mobile Creativity and Mobile Innovation Symposium. I’m writing this after the event, which was so rich that I can’t fit everything into one post so I’ll write about the mobile film screenings here and the conference itself in a separate post.

SO, the films: The Symposium itself launched on Wednesday night with the first of three nightly screenings of mobile shorts from around the world. Each screening was held in a darkened theatre with films shown on a large screen. I’ve rarely viewed mobile films in this way before (having generally viewed films on smaller screens/devices – apart from when showing films to students, but then as standalone pieces rather than as a running showreel) and I was struck by the intensity of the experience. Because the films were so short, ranging from something like 15 seconds up to 3 minutes, we were immersed in mobile film in all it’s glory – a real cornucopia of genres, styles and aesthetics which showcased the rich possibilities of pocket cinema brilliantly. I’m more in love with mobile film than ever after this…

The depth and power of emotion in many of the short pieces is quite remarkable. These filmmakers really understand the medium and the art of telling a short story quickly. Interestingly, some of the films were virtually indistinguishable from big budget counterparts in terms of production values as a result of technological shifts (HD camphones) and were not only crisp and clear but also incredibly cinematic due to their framing and sweeping shots (for instance, Wilhelm Jerusalem – Kołacze by Lukasz Krysiewicz). Others retained a more lo-fi aesthetic, including several made using apps such as Instagram and Hipstamatic. Max Schleser’s film “Midtown” was filmed on an iPhone 4 with mCAMLITE, the mobile video created with the Time Piles app, edited with the Splice app and the music was produced using the iMaschine app. It’s amazing to think what can be created with the devices in our pockets.

As is practically a defining characteristic of ‘pocket cinema’, the films had a sense of immediacy, intimacy and authenticity. Personal devices are ideally suited for telling personal stories, and the films were so imaginative and varied – the one unifying feature being that they all proved how compelling short-form content can be when the idea/story is really strong. It doesn’t have to take a long time to take people on an emotional journey, as proved by films such as “A Grand Mother” by Candy Elsmore, which conveyed her delight and pride knowing that her grandmother had signed New Zealand’s Suffragette Petition over 100 years ago. The spark and wit of pieces such as Kevin Logan’s “To Have and To Have Not”, and Paul Taylor’s “Digital Trust Hike” were palpable, without detracting from deeper messages. I won’t list all of the films here, but I’ll be searching them out online and if available, will write a follow-up post listing the contributions with hyperlinks (many are not in the public realm as this may compromise their eligibility for festivals etc.).

The final night (Friday) was a showcase of films from other/partner mobile festivals, including SEISFF (Korean Mobile Film Festival), the Cinephone Spanish Mobile Film Festival, the Macedonia Mobile Film Festival, the USA Mobile Film Festival, and the Ohrenblick and Mobile Streifen Festivals (Germany).

There’s something about sitting in a darkened room watching a succession of short-form films on a big screen. It’s intense, compelling, leading the viewer into a Zen-like state. It had me thinking about the Netflix model of releasing an entire series in one go (see Kevin Spacey’s speech here). Increasingly, audiences want to be immersed in a viewing experience, and in the digital age, we can be. However, this isn’t just about gorging on the latest epic (obvious examples being The Wire, Breaking Bad, Game of Thrones, Orange is the New Black – even though 3 of these were broadcast as regular series, many or even most viewers saved themselves so they could watch the entire thing over a short space of time). In the case of the MINA 2013 screenings, we experienced the depth and immersion in a much shorter time period, ideally suited to short form content.

As you can tell, the MINA screenings were truly inspiring. They made me want to go away and start creating there and then – and judging by the conversations I was having many others felt the same. These screenings were invaluable in terms of opening the mind to what’s possible – vertical and square formats, durations as short as 15 seconds, a huge variety of styles and genres – it’s a brilliant exercise in freeing the mind from the constraints of industry-led convention. I’m looking forward to showing the MINA 2013 DVD to my students next semester as I think it’s a powerful way to experience mobile film, and I hope that it will really open up their minds and get them thinking about what’s possible, pushing them to create in new ways.

Here’s the MINA 2013 Showreel as a taster – and some stills here.

Some more of the films:

AUT and #nextgenhello

WEEK TWO – Auckland (post 1 of 3): AUT and #nextgenhello

Last week was my first week in Auckland, where I’m mainly based at AUT (apart popping back over to Australia for Ascilite) until 11th December delivering mobile film talks and workshops with long-term virtual collaborators Thom Cochrane, Laurent Antonczak and Max Schleser (Massey University). I’ve also met Dan Wagner from UNITEC for the first time (another member of the ELVSS team), and it’s been a delight to finally be working alongside people I’ve known through a screen for the past three years!

I arrived here in Auckland on Sunday 17th after a week in Canberra, and had a great introduction to CfLAT (the Centre for Learning and Teaching) on Monday morning when I attended a staff meeting and met the team behind many learning innovations here at AUT. It was great spending the day with Thom and Vikram (and finally seeing the wall I’ve been staring at through a Google hangout window for three years!) before heading to the mobile film workshop delivered by Max and Laurent – which I then joined on the Tuesday, sharing some rich discussions with participants relating to social/cultural issues around the use of social, mobile platforms before we made some rather cool vids for our #nextgenhello film. Loved seeing Max and Laurent in action – they really know their stuff – and the workshop participants were all very engaged and produced some fantastic work.

On Wednesday, I went along to the CfLAT Pecha Kucha workshop, where staff presented their EdTech projects to one another. I was most impressed both by the number and range of projects coming out of CfLAT and also the quality. Excellent practice all round, so well done all.

In between all of this I was frantically trying to promote #nextgenhello which basically involved annoying people on Twitter/facebook/instagram through incessant #nextgenhello tweets and staying up until 5am so that I could keep haranguing the northern hemisphere. I was also following the Salford Media Festival at our MediaCity campus (review here), which seems to have gone brilliantly judging by the tweets! Bit tiring after 3 nights of this as I was getting up at 7am – but it was worth it in the end when we finally launched #nextgenhello on World Hello Day (21st Nov) in three locations: Salford Media Festival in the UK, the MINA Mobile Symposium here in NZ – and of course, online (YouTube). Thank you and well done to everybody involved – the contributions were wonderful, and a special thanks to Clare Wells for looking after everything at the Salford end, and Jan Bradley for the original suggestion of doing something for World Hello Day – you can read more about the project on the #nextgenhello site – and here’s the story in Storify.

Current Perspectives in Media Education

It's here! Available at a book store near you and all over the INTERWEBS. I'm chapter 9 :)

I’ve really enjoyed dipping into Current Perspectives in Media Education this week (a book for which I wrote a chapter on “Emerging Pedagogies in Higher Education”). Pete Fraser and Jonathan Wardle have put together a wonderful collection which “seeks to widen the debate and offers perspectives on where media education has been and where it might be going. With chapters from leading figures in the field, including David Buckingham and Henry Jenkins, Current Perspectives in Media Education brings together a range of viewpoints from across all sectors, from primary to university and including accounts from the UK, USA, Canada and Australia.”

The chapters are as follows:
1. Introduction: Beyond a Manifesto for Media Education; Pete Fraser and Jonathan Wardle
2. Back to the Future? Old and New Agendas in Media Education; Jenny Grahame
3. Challenging Concepts: Learning in the Media Classroom; David Buckingham
4. Media Education: A Tool for Social Inclusion; Steve Connolly
5. Educating Media Educators; Kate Domaille
6. ‘These are my photos of when I was little’: Locating Media Arts in the Primary School Curriculum; Michael Duezanni and Annette Woods
7. Public Space and Media Education in the City; Stuart Poyntz
8. From New Media Literacies to New Media Expertise; Henry Jenkins
9. Emerging Pedagogies; Helen Keegan (available from the USIR repository)
10. Cultural Disneyland? The History of an Inferiority Complex; Richard Berger
11. Not ‘philosophy of media education’, but ‘media education as philosophy’: Working With ‘creativity’; Mark Readman
12. We are the Resurrection: Media Education after the Media; Julian McDougall

Australia/New Zealand Week One: CANBERRA

I’m writing post in the air (on a chair!) between Australia and New Zealand, where I’m spending nearly six weeks hopping about due to a mix various speaking engagements (seminars, keynotes etc.), and co-delivering hands-on workshops which will mean finally working alongside (yes, as in face-to-face!) some of the people with whom I’ve been collaborating over the past three years. It’s a fantastic opportunity both to share practice with, and learn from others, so in terms of personal development I’m expecting to return to the UK with a much deeper appreciation of learning/curriculum innovation and institutional change elsewhere. The first stop was the Australian capital, where I’ve spent the past week at the University of Canberra and (a last minute addition) the Australian National University, working with staff to explore possibilities for new ways of learning and teaching through social and mobile technologies.

Canberra

It’s been a fantastic experience so far, and I’m blown away by the talent involved in #ucsaffire – the University of Canberra’s campus-wide project which aims to remodel learning and teaching across disciplines and faculties through integration of digital literacies and pedagogies. The #ucsaffire team come from a diverse range of backgrounds, and between them they cover pretty much everything you’d want in a Teaching and Learning Centre (and then some), including some cutting-edge AR work, an award-winning cinematographer and an amazing woman who alongside specialising in interactive/digital performance has also hitched her way around the world on yachts… (Cynthia, next time I’m coming too! 😉

It’s been a most thought-provoking, challenging and rewarding experience exploring current (and future) practice over here, and I’m genuinely excited about the possibilities for learning and teaching at the University of Canberra, which closely parallels Salford in many ways – so I’ve found myself drawing on not only my own personal experiences, but also the drivers behind learning innovation at my home institution. I look forward to maintaining our relationship virtually as both a critical friend and an ardent supporter of #ucsaffire now that this week has come to an end.

Before sharing some goodbye drinks at the end of the day on Friday (Jean *waves*!), I was whisked over to the Australian National University to present to staff there, and again was heartened by the openness and the attitude towards experimentation with emerging (and in this case, risky) pedagogies. Again, I look forward to keeping in contact and sharing experiences in relation to curriculum design – in this case we were specifically considering simulations and alternate realities in the legal disciplines. Exciting stuff!

It’s not been too bad working in opposite time-zones, as I’m able to do ‘Salford work’ in the early mornings and evenings, with ‘Oz work’ in between. More than ever, I’m appreciating Instagram for ambient social connectivity, and I love being able to stay connected with students back on home turf through photo-sharing – in fact, I’ve found myself referring to Instagram on many occasion this week, as a platform that both academics and learners are using in unanticipated ways to share knowledge and sustain connections over time and space…

Thank you to everybody I’ve met, talked at and talked with this week. You’ve all been wonderful (and a special thanks to Jonathan Powles for inviting me over in the first place and Traci Ward who has looked after me every step of the way), and I’m leaving Canberra feeling rather excited about the road ahead. I probably say this way too much but I’m going to have to say it again…

#ilovemyjob

(pics on Flickr)